10 Reasons for a RGT Retreat
1. Scouted out by a master photog When Hollywood films a movie, a scout has already checked out locations for the best filming conditions. They know the locations for each shot and the best time of day and light. The same has been done here, so you don't waste your time looking. (Oh a "photog" is what they call a photographer.)
There are 50,000 lavender fields in Southern France. I have personally picked out 12 where the rows go North to South, so the morning and evening sun give the rows definition. Plus relatively weed free, which is not an easy task since farmers get paid way more for organic crops.
And it isn't just the fields. The towns where you stop for lunch need to be photogenic, because some like to sit and relax while others want to photograph as much as they can. I understand people are different. On normal tours you spend at least 50% of your time searching for the right spot. On a RGT Retreat it is done for you. But that isn't to say you won't stop at new locations where the light is just right. TRUE professionals know the extreme VALUE of this.
2. Model releases
Sometimes you have a great lavender field but no subject (like a tree or a stone building) to add character. That's where a model with a nice flowing dress would come it handy. Our models come complete with model releases. This is vital since the NEW 2021 European privacy laws which allow for Europeans to sue someone for placing their image on even Facebook, regardless of being in a public place. This makes your image more valuable because you have someone you can pose and direct, plus it is a USEABLE and sellable image. For those that we run across in the field (like Joy to your right) we have extra releases and most are thrilled to sign. I am working on some crusty old men that we can catch at work too. I want you to return with the best images you have ever taken. Does it cost more? Sure, but you get so much more.
3. Contacts already made.
I've been planning this trip for years. I actually come from Sequim, Washington the North American Lavender Capital. I have photographed lavender all kinds of ways. I even have a world famous poster of 80 varieties of lavender. Many of the farms we will visit received my poster. Several thanked me and said; "Most photographers just trample on our fields and give nothing in return, so you are a rarity." The only thing I ask is that you have respect for each other and the farmers hard work.
4. Away from crowds
There are a couple good reasons to stay away from crowds. First of all, most tourists are disrespectful and will walk in front of your shot and flip you off if you ask them to move. Plus I hate photoshopping them out. Secondly, we'd like to get back in the United States, which currently means you have to pass a Covid test. Who knows what the Covid situation will be like by then. Trust me we can entertain ourselves. France currently requires Americans to be fully vaccinated.
5. Improve yourself
We all want to be better for whatever reason. After 50 years in professional photography I can truthfully say we all learn from each other. But if you think about it we only learn when someone takes an interest in us. Involvement is the key to education.
Fifty one years ago I was fortunate to have two older brothers who were professional photographers. Their boss was big in the Professional Photographer of America and The Photographic Society of America. He introduced me to some of the greatest photographers in the world. I learned a little from all, eventually developed my own style. Enough to keep me employed for 51 years anyway. I'm the first to say I do not know everything and proud to say I am still learning in this rapidly changing profession.
My goal when I meet someone is "How can I change this person's life." I can only do it by sharing what I know, as other professionals did for me.
The fastest way to learn about photography is through a print critique whether it’s yours or someone else’s. That’s where other photographers explain what they like and dislike about a print if you like what is said, you adapt it.
If you give 40 professional photographers the same assignment you will come up with at least 35 different images. Why do they, do what they do? Very early in my career, I think I was a senior in high school, I went to a professional photographers convention and I got up enough nerve to ask one of the world-famous judges to critique my work. He looked at me and said, "Would you rather have me tell you what’s right or what’s wrong?" I said, what’s wrong. He smiled and said; "Perfect answer, because it’s harder to learn from something that you already know." A critique is how we got that expression "what’s wrong with this picture." Even to this day, after I clicked my shutter I say "what’s wrong with this picture." Then I correct it. We ask each other a lot of questions on a RGT Retreat. Not all answers work for everyone.
7. Experience that counts
Less than 1/100th of a percent of the professional photographers will last 40 years in photography. 96% do not last 5 years. It is not an easy business to be in and with the digital industry swallowing up the industry it is predicted that it will be tougher in the future. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over cameras, making it easier and easier for the average person to get a decently exposed image. Fortunately for me, I focused on the creative side rather than the tech end. They have not taught computers to create, only think based on data. I have two programs that AI is interested in - Tomaras Image Theory and Photo-Storming. You’ll hear more about that on the retreat. It is safe to say that I have knowledge that anyone can benefit from. While I do not know everything, there is 51 years of creative experience that I do know. I’ve had the ups and downs that most photogs will or have gone through and I survived.
When it comes to tours I’ve organized over 250 in over 40 countries. I’ve been on the ground for over 100 of those and been by myself in a foreign country over 100 times. My goal for a RGT Retreat is to keep everyone busy with lots of interesting things, but that means I have to be organized and flexible enough to adapt to weather and curveballs.
8. Life is Just a Movie
When the Professional Photographers of America and Kodak asked me to set up the first ever Professional Photographers Exchange with China in 1986, none of us knew what to expect. The 40 of us, all had the time of our lives. Did everything go as planned? No, it never does. There is always better than expected and unexpected. One of the film makers on the historic trip would always say, “It’s Just a Movie. You never know what to expect.” So we all adapted the saying; “It’s just a movie,” and laughed. My best stories are based around the unexpected, and I’ll keep you entertained with some of them. They all turned out fine.
We learn best when we are having fun. Stress is a killer to the body and mind. You’ll walk away with more knowledge when you let your mind absorb what it does not know. Later you can sort through what you want to keep.
Photography is the Universal Language and it is how we communicate with ourselves. Remember no matter what your experience, we can all learn from each other.
BUT if you have been called a stick in the mud before, a fun trip is not for you. We will have FUN.
9. Lifelong friendship
I’m a lifetime learner as you probably guessed. You have to be a learner in this business. Most of my clients keep in touch with me FOREVER. I like to see people excel. I like to share. I don’t call it teaching because that sounds too formal. People get to take what they want. Teaching seems like you are forcing something.
I am happy to say that many of my clients are repeat customers. Why? Because they had FUN and learned something. In fact the first person to sign up for this retreat, was on that first photographers trip to China. Morris has photographed over 150 movie stars and is an expert in posing and lighting. More recently he has mastered astro photography. So I am looking forward to learning something from him. Morris likes to share also. Another person who is interested takes most of his images with an iPhone. And we have a few that are only interested in lavender, but wouldn’t mind learning photography because they have products they want to sell.
10. HUGE BONUS
If you sign up before the RGT Retreat fills up (15 people) or before the end of 2022, (whichever comes first) you will be enrolled in my 2 Year online Mastermind Class that starts on January 5th 2023. This is more than an equivalent to a college degree in photography. AND IT IS FREE, but it is easily worth twice as much as the retreat.
My whole career I have had people come up to me and ask me what is the best way to learn photography? I have always said find the best photographer you can and VOLUNTEER your services for a year. The reason I said that is I learned nearly all my knowledge from the professionals in the field rather than my college degree. Professionals know what is real and what is BS. College you have to pay to learn what is mostly useless in the field.
Why am I doing this? It is a huge commitment, but I am 72 years old and I want to pass on the useful knowledge I have acquired over the years, just as others have done for me. My whole life I never achieved anything I didn’t try. By forcing myself to develop this Master Class over two years, I will have created a photographic blueprint for others to follow in my footsteps. When you get older it is important to give back to what developed you.
For me that was photography and wrestling. The first 15 sign-ups prior to January 1, 2023 get the Mastermind Class for FREE, if you are just in it to see the lavender fields pass the class on to a friend.
The last point I want to make is that I have been accused of being an animal, primarily an "Energizer Bunny." My biggest fault is that even at the age of 72, I have been accused of wearing even young people down on a trip. So I have designed RGT Retreats in bite size chunks. Sunrise - Breakfast - Mid Morn - Lunch - Afternoon - Dinner - Evening. Yes it is a full day (10 to 15 hours) for a 9 days, but you are welcome to stick around the campfire on any session you don't feel up to the hike.
Must be at least 18 years old to go on the trip and physically capable of walking 3 miles a day. (not all at once) Don’t worry about me, I run 5 miles a day in under 38 minutes. Don’t pack any more than you can carry. Must have a great attitude about learning. France currently requires that visitors be fully vaccinated and could require a PCR Covid test 72 hours before arrival and maybe masks.
Of course you will need a valid passport and vaccination card. I will have a whole class on what to take in January and I will have more info between now and then.
I am so excited, there is so much more to tell you. I feel like I am Willy Wonka, only I will have a class of Charlie’s and we will all learn together.